I have worked as a bartender for a while, I'm good at it. I'm not good at keeping up on the latest drink's, I could really give a fuck about stupid shots. But I am good at glad-handing, management and running a business efficiently. So I have decided to buy a bar. I have a partner (who has a complementary set of skills) and we have enough funding to buy a low budget bar that is on the ropes and nurse it back to health. While I'm good at "bars" I don't really like them all that much, and to tell you the truth not liking bars a lot is a great quality in a bar owner. I don't want to have a personal party zone, I know that it's more work then fun, I am not a drunk or a coke head (these are pretty much the core values of the average person who wants to open a bar, and it's not a winning formula).
While owning a bar isn't something especially laudable, I don't think I really mind. After about five years of hard work I hope to own two bars with my partner and have a pretty decent income and some management in place so that my work consists of problem solving for my staff, not running myself ragged with late nights. This will hopefully allow me to do the stuff that really matters, spend time with and provide for my family.
I could write and essay about qualities that I would like to see in a bar, but I won't. I'll just say that my model is of a neighborhood place, good visibility from the outside, so people see that it's an open and friendly space. No TV's or screens of any type visible from the street or the main seating area, TV's kill socialization. A staff that honors all patrons regardless of class or race. Hopefully I can remember what it's like be in a workers shoes and not become bourgeois filth, unable or willing to relate or respond to the concerns and valuable observations of my staff (this would be the big downside of my current job, it's not that the people who own it are bastards, they just don't relate to the actual work going on and are missing out on a number of efficiencies and comforts that could make their bar a happier more profitable place).
I know so many people with larger life goals then "to own a bar," and owning a bar isn't really the goal, it's just a means. I'll never help push forward the goals of human understanding, be a captain of industry or help shape public policy and I feel like I should feel guilty for this. I will be able to send my kid to a good school, let my wife do work that she finds more meaningful then what she is doing now, provide decent jobs in an environment that appreciates the value of hard work and dedication to customer service, provide a comfortable environment for people to socialize in and also to give back a fixed percentage of the profits to pro-social community causes.
I wrestle with the fear of putting my financial ass on the line (this is my families ass as well) and not doing work of significant perceived social value but it's where I am right now, I hope it works out. I think I'll have a space by the end of the year, I'll keep you all updated, and buy you a drink someday if you ever make it here.